Comparisons between collaborative, business-oriented note taking apps for the workplace and simple, plain text note taking apps for personal use can be difficult. But ultimately these differences don't matter, provided the apps satisfy their intended function. Apple Notes is installed on every Mac as part of Apple's productivity suite.
The essential to-do list app for Mac lovers.
What began as a simple iOS note taking app has evolved into a feature-packed cross-platform note taking solution. You can capture rich text notes with formatting, in-line images, checklists, and tables. There isn't a tagging system, but you can pull notes into folders or pin them to the top of the stack for better organization. The app supports attachments in the form of photos and videos, document scans from your iPhone, hand-drawn sketches, audio recordings, or document files.
You can add items directly to your notes by clicking the Share button in apps like Safari, Mail, and Apple Maps. Click the Browse Attachments button on the app toolbar to browse your entire note collection by the attachments you've amassed.
Creating Sticky Notes
And Apple Notes isn't just a solitary note taking app. You can collaborate on notes with others by clicking the Add people to this note button and sending an invite via email, AirDrop, or iMessage. Keep in mind that other users will need an Apple ID in order to take part. You can also lock notes to keep them private, and choose to store notes locally on your Mac or on Apple's servers.
Apple Notes will sync via iCloud and push content to other instances of macOS, your iPhone, or iPad, and is accessible on the web at iCloud.
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A dedicated app is only available on Apple platforms, so Apple Notes might not be the perfect solution for users who also use Android, Windows, and other platforms. Evernote is one of the most feature-rich note taking apps out there—it takes an exhaustive approach to capturing everything. Store rich text formatted notes with in-line images, tables, file attachments, and checklists.
If you want your notes to be consistent, you can use templates for everything from weight loss trackers to marketing plans to meeting agendas. And if you click the Add Reminder button to add an alert to your note, Evernote will notify you at the right time.
All of your notes are stored in virtual notebooks. Create as many notebooks as you need, and then group relevant notebooks together in "stacks" for further organization a feature that's specific to the desktop app. You can add tags to your notes as you create them and then browse by tag, but the search is where Evernote shines.
Do a full-text search of titles, note content, and even text within PDFs and images. Bottom line: It's easy to find what you're looking for. Download the Evernote web clipper for your browser, and use it to capture entire web pages in a click. And for users willing to upgrade to Evernote Business, third-party integrations run deep. Free users beware. Evernote imposes two fairly heavy restrictions: an upload limit of 60 megabytes per month, and a two-device limit for syncing. In order to sync anything other than your Mac and smartphone, you'll need to cough up for a premium plan.
It's also a fairly bloated app if you're not going to be using all of the included features. Performance can take a hit depending on how much you've stored and the age of your Mac. If you like the look of Evernote but don't need all the advanced features, Joplin is a completely free and open-source Evernote clone that mimics the popular note taking app's interface.
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It uses an identical method of organization, with notes stored in Markdown format. Joplin has robust support for the import of Evernote's ENEX files, which makes switching over a breeze. Just like Evernote, Joplin stores data locally before pushing it to the cloud to avoid data loss and has full support for attachments. OneNote is a free alternative to Evernote, but it's not a carbon copy. Microsoft's free note taking app takes a scrapbook-like approach to data capture, allowing you to place elements like text boxes and images on the page by dragging and dropping. Mix different media types within a single note, add tables, record audio clips, embed videos, and attach documents.
And with Zapier's OneNote integration , you can automatically create notes based on things you do in other apps. The OneNote organizational method has a similar hierarchy to Evernote: Pages notes live in sections, sections live in notebooks, and you can create as many notebooks as you need. Preloaded tags live in the main "ribbon" toolbar, and there are recognizable icons, with entries like to-do a clickable checkbox , critical an exclamation point , and movies to see a film cell.
You can search for tags by clicking the search tool followed by Tags. Notes are synced via OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service. This means that unlike Evernote, there are no monthly quotas. Your OneDrive storage quota dictates how much you can store, with 5GB of storage provided for free when you sign up. While Evernote can search the text in your images, OneDrive can search and extract that text so you can make edits.
It even works with handwriting. Features like this make OneNote a serious contender to Evernote's throne. For a full comparison, read our Evernote vs. OneNote app showdown.
- Bear - Notes for iPhone, iPad and Mac.
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The OneNote Mac app features a number of benefits over the web version, like the ability to play audio and video embeds, preservation of formatting when copying and pasting text, and the ability to create and apply custom tags. Check out the full list of differences between OneNote Online and the desktop versions. Bear is a breath of fresh air in the note taking space. The app was designed with prose in mind, and thus places a strong focus on typography.
Few apps in this space present your writing so elegantly, and it's clear developers have taken time when choosing default fonts, text sizes, and color schemes.
Capture notes in Markdown, and have Bear format it as you type, while still showing your syntax in-line—no preview window required. Bear stores all notes in plaintext, which drastically speeds up the app's ability to search and render your content. Organization is a bit different too: It's done through hashtags, which can be deployed anywhere in your note.
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These hashtags feature on the main sidebar to the left of the app and can be arranged alphabetically, by last used hashtag, or by popularity. Child tags can be created with a slash. Each tag has a customizable TagCon—a small icon used to identify the tag quickly. These tags and child tags are the closest thing Bear has to notebooks, stacks, and sections. To reference notes internally, you can right-click any note and choose Copy Link to Note to get an internal note link that you can use in your other notes.
For programmers, Bear features syntax highlighting for over 20 programming and markup languages. Images can be imported and displayed in-line, and smart data recognition makes your notes more useful by automatically turning elements like hyperlinks and email addresses into clickable links.
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The free version of Bear doesn't include syncing with the iPhone app; for that, you'll need to subscribe to premium. With your subscription, you'll also get further exporting options, and a full set of themes for styling the app to your liking. At present, there is no web version of Bear, though developers have confirmed they are working on it. Simplenote is, unsurprisingly, a simple note taking app.
The app doesn't support images or attachments of any kind, instead opting to capture your notes in plain text. It's completely free, and it's well supported, with versions available for Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, and the web. The only thing you need to use it is a free WordPress account.
As a result of the aggressively simple design, Simplenote is the most intuitive app on this list. Like in Bear, there are no notebooks—instead, your note collection is organized by tags that show up in the sidebar on the left. Once you've added a tag to the relevant field at the bottom of your note, it will show up in the sidebar, where it can be reordered using drag and drop. The app interface embraces beauty through simplicity, with full support for macOS dark mode.
The focus on clean lines and typography makes Simplenote a pleasant place to spend time while you're taking notes.
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This will ask you to save when you try to close the note, letting you store the contents as a text file. Some things may look a little different, but they should retain their formatting and be sorted by their colors into separate folders. Comments 0. The Best Tech Newsletter Anywhere.
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